The concept of Fast Food Friday started as quick things to think about to help fine-tune your business as a professional photographer. I started playing off of our love for fast food. We all understand the concept of quick lunch at a place like McDonald's, Arby's, etc. although my personal favorite for quality is Chick-fil-A.
The ideas that have been shared keep growing, and the blue plate specials have become more complex, often "tasting" like a full course meal at Ruth's Chris. But the concept is still the same - ideas to help you make this year and 2019 more successful.
Today's special is hardly fast food. Each one is a meal by itself. I hope you'll read the post as if it was fast food and there was little more to think about. Then, come back and go through each of the five questions below. If your goal is to continue to grow your business and make 2019 your best year yet, the time to start thinking about it is NOW!
Most important of all, there are no right or wrong answers to the questions. You've got to understand your business and your audience and most important of all, procrastination should NOT be part of your skill set.
Five Questions Leading Up to the New Year
"Most people give up just when they're about to achieve success. They quit on the one yard line.
They give up at the last minute of the game, one foot from a winning touchdown."
Every year business gets a little tougher, and too often many of you get frustrated that things aren't coming together as quickly as you had hoped. You're losing patience and even considering giving up! Often your frustration is the result of not thinking through the business side of being a pro. So, let's get you focused on building a solid foundation and keep you out of Ross Perot's definition of "most people."
What's your goal for each of the next three years? Let's start with this year and write them down. Most of you started your business, but never really thought about what you wanted it to look like. Many of you are trying to hit too broad a target with clients in weddings, family, children, seniors, boudoir, etc. You've got to build each business element one step at a time and make sure you have the skill set to meet the demands of each group.
Who is your target audience? Based on a Kodak survey done many years ago, women make 98% of the purchase decisions to hire a professional photographer in the portrait/social categories. I don't believe it's changed one point since then. Does your website have a feminine appeal? Are you hitting the right points in your marketing to appeal to Mom? Is the content you share on your blog interesting to her?
Do you have the skill set? Okay, this is the toughest...you know when you look at an image if it genuinely represents professional talent or could anybody's Uncle Harry have gotten the same shot? Look at your galleries and then dump those images that aren't spectacular. At every conference, you should be taking classes on new techniques and expanding your skill set, because growth starts outside your comfort zone.
Are you signed up for every convention and workshop you can hit in the next year? The benefit isn't just in what you'll learn in classes or walking the trade show floor - it's in the networking. Nothing can help you more than spending time with other photographers and building a network of associates who are dealing with the same challenges. Don't forget to add all the vendors whose products and services you use. You should know some of the staff at every company you work with.
When you look at this past year to date, if you're a little disappointed, is the problem in revenue or what you're shooting? So often I've met photographers who hate what they're shooting because it's so far from the passion and glamour of what they wanted to spend their time doing initially. The challenge is to build your revenue stream with whatever is going to pay the bills - but here's the best part of being an artist. Special projects can help you stay focused on the passion and give you a way to vent a little of that frustration when you're shooting subjects you're not crazy about. It's an easy question to think about - what do you love to photograph most and how can you build a special project around it to keep your heart and soul where it should be in the coming year?
"In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me lay an invincible summer."
Whatever pays the bills can often feel like the "depth of winter", but that's why I love that quote. It's that "invincible summer" we all have inside us that gets us through the challenges. You've got to keep your passion for the craft alive and when you feel like you're about to crash and burn, that's the time to step away from the business and often special projects can help you stay focused on what's most important to feed your creative genes.
Fast Food Fridays are brought to you by:
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Check out "Why?" one of the most popular features on the SCU Blog. It's a very simple concept - one image, one artist and one short sound bite. Each artist shares what makes the image one of their most favorite. We're over 100 artists featured since the project started. Click on the link above and you can scroll through all of the episodes to date.